The moment Air Force fans have been waiting for is now upon us – it is Cheez-It Bowl game day. It’s one last ride for this Falcon football team that is brimming with talent and compelling story lines. Let’s just get right into it. Here’s a look at 2019 Cheez-It Bowl featuring Air Force and Washington State.
The Cheez-It Bowl
This bowl game dates back to 1989 and has been an upper-middle tier bid played in Arizona since its inception. It’s had several names like the Copper Bowl, the Insight Bowl, and the Cactus Bowl. Title sponsors have previously included Buffalo Wild Wings, Domino’s Pizza, Motel 6, and since 2018, it’s technically Kellogg’s, who owns the Cheez-It brand.
As far as conference tie-ins go, the Pac-10, WAC, Big 12, and Big East had tie-ins prior to 2006, and looking forward, it was announced that the Big Ten and Big 12 will have tie-ins starting in 2020. So maybe Air Force got lucky catching the bowl at the right time, kind of during a branding transition period, but I’m not complaining at all.
Looking back, there have been some great match-ups, like last year’s low scoring battle between TCU and Cal, which TCU won in overtime 10-7, as well as the West Virginia and Arizona State shootout, which WVU won 43-42 in 2016. Additionally, some of the MVPs have included Ty Lockett, Le’Veon Bell, Aaron Rodgers, and even Drew Bledsoe early on.
The game will be played at Chase Field in Phoenix, making it one of only two bowl games played in an MLB stadium, with the other of course being the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium.
It is exceedingly difficult to pinpoint exactly what Air Force is going to be facing when they play Washington State. On paper, Washington State doesn’t exactly have a stellar defense and their rushing game is nothing to write home about, but it’s still a team that hung with Arizona State and Oregon. They didn’t beat any particularly great teams this year and none of their conference wins were against a team that ended up with a winning record.
Still, I think this game will prove a lot in terms of the Power 5 / Power 6 argument. Is Mountain West team that’s having a great year better than a Pac-12 team on a relatively down year?
Of course, I myself am excited to see Mike Leach try to figure out the Air Force team and I think it will be interesting to see the Falcon defense take on who will likely be the best quarterback they’ve played all year in Anthony Gordon. It just really is a matter of waiting and seeing if the Power 5 aspect is hype or if there is a material difference between the tiers, or if that even matters at all.
Finally, we need to talk about Cheez Its. If you’ve ever listened to the Against All Enemies podcast, you may know that I have some reservations about military contractor title sponsor bowl games. I don’t have a problem with them in general, it’s just that since 2007, six of Air Force’s ten bowl games have had military contractor title sponsors and it feels a bit forced.
I couldn’t be more excited to have the Cheez-It brand sponsoring our bowl game. Cheez-Its are delicious, orange like a Colorado sunset, and they have crisp 90 degree angles like the architecture of the Air Force Academy. Unlike most crackers out there, Cheez-Its also stand up on their own as a snack. You don’t need cheese or dips like you would for say, a Triscuit or a Ritz. You could incorporate a little dip or even some hot sauce to just enhance your Cheez-It experience, but it’s totally unnecessary. I’ve even heard of people using Cheez-Its like bread crumbs to fry chicken or make crusts for a nice quiche. I’m pretty simple when it comes to my Cheez-It preference. I haven’t tried the newer, off the wall flavors like cheese pizza or the chips, but I do have an order of preference:
Top 5 Cheez It Flavors
5. Hot and Spicy
4. Italian Four cheese
3. Cheddar Jack
1. White Cheddar
Ranking white cheddar may be contentious, but I love them. They’re an all-time snack.
In my opinion, there’s no better way to celebrate Air Force’s success in 2019 than with a bowl game of this magnitude. Not only are the sponsors, commentators like Pat McAfee, and venue a lot of fun, but it’s shaping up to be some great football. So tune in tonight as the Falcons take the field for the last time this season at 10:15 pm EST on ESPN.